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September 4, 2012
U.S. blanks Nigeria, reaches U-20 Women's World Cup championship

TOKYO, Japan – The United States overcame a strong and fast Nigeria team before recording a 2-0 victory in the semifinals of the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup at Tokyo National Stadium on Tuesday.

Morgan Brian and Kealia Ohai scored their first goals of the tournament as the Americans reached their third U-20 championship game. They have won the tournament twice, defeating Canada to win the 2002 title when it was a U-19 competition, and most recently defeating Korea DPR, 2-1, in the 2008 U-20 Women’s World Cup.

The U.S. will face the winner of Tuesday’s later semifinal match between defending champion Germany and host Japan in the title match at Tokyo National Stadium on Saturday.

The Americans caught an early break in the eighth minute when Nigeria, the runner-up in the 2010 U-20 Women’s World Cup, intercepted the ball in the midfield. Francisca Ordega’s shot one-on-one against goalkeeper Bryane Haeberlin was pushed a couple feet wide right of the goal.

The match featured end-to-end play with both teams recording several chances in the opening 20 minutes. In the 22nd minute, the U.S. got on the score sheet as Brian headed the ball into the left side of the net. Left back Mollie Pathman drove a cross in from the left sideline and found Brian unmarked toward the far right side. She capitalized sent a header past goalkeeper Ibubeleye Whyte.

The U.S. almost doubled the lead just before halftime as Kelly Cobb’s header set up by Ohai on the left side went barely over the crossbar.

Nigeria, which held the possession advantage, stepped up its pressure in the second half. The Africans thought they had the equalizer in the 52nd minute when Desire Oparanozie slotted her shot into the net past Haeberlin. Oparanozie was ruled offside.

The Americans put the match away in the 70th minute as second-half substitutes Chioma Ubogagu and then Samantha Mewis worked the ball to Ohai, whose shot clipped Whyte and was placed into the left side of the net.

Heaberlin made three saves for her second clean sheet of the tournament.

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